Library > News > Newsletter > 2015 > November 2015 > Prof. Jonathan Sarna in Residence: Strengthening the American Connection

Prof. Jonathan Sarna in Residence: Strengthening the American Connection

World-renowned expert on American Jewry Prof. Jonathan Sarna has completed work as a scholar-in-residence at the National Library. The "Building Bridges" program, generously supported by the Nash Family Foundation, was designed to utilize Prof. Sarna's expertise to enhance the Library's American Jewry collection, its capacity to more directly serve the American Jewish community and scholars in the field, as well as facilitate and cultivate a stronger cultural relationship between Israel and American Jewry. Over the course of more than a month, Prof. Sarna reviewed the collection, preparing a detailed report. A number of special events were also held, including lectures and discussions with leading Israeli and American academics and professionals.

Prof. Jonathan SarnaProf. Sarna's work as the first ever "Building Bridges" scholar-in-residence served as a watershed with regard to the National Library's American Jewry Collection, as well as its relations with the American Jewish community. Prof. Sarna's report included invaluable recommendations for enhancing the collection as well as specific suggestions for collaboration with leading institutions in the United States. According to Dr. Yoel Finkelman, NLI Chaim & Chana Salomon Judaica Collection Curator, "Sarna's intimate familiarity with other bodies, large and small, that hold important collections of American Judaica helped to guide the Library towards future cooperation in digitization and making materials available as widely as possible."

The Library also presented three special events during Prof. Sarna's stay to promote understanding, research and dialogue about American Jewry. One evening entitled "Surviving or Thriving? The Past and Future of American Jews", featured a lecture by Prof. Sarna on his most recent book, co-written with Benjamin Shapell, "Lincoln and the Jews", as well as a panel entitled "American Jews Face the Challenges Ahead" with leading figures from academia and the Jewish world. Prof. Sarna's time at the Library garnered significant press exposure including two prime time interviews on major Israeli television networks, in addition to feature articles in "The Jerusalem Post" and "Makor Rishon", a popular Hebrew-language weekend publication.

The "Building Bridges" scholar-in-residence program is just one of many recent and on-going initiatives through which the National Library continues to fulfill its mandate as the national library for the Jewish people in Israel and across the globe.